Thursday, 31 March 2011

Where Are They Now? 2KCBWDAY4

Whatever happened to your __________?

Hmmm, now this is a hard question because I haven't been knitting long enough to have anything that really qualifies. Everything is still in use, nothing's disintegrated (yet!) and I've only given two things as gifts... I'm a bit of a selfish knitter it seems ;)

So, what to write about... *inspiration strikes* Ok, so it's not a knitting item, but it is something I made, and it (he) has gone on a bit of a journey...

Introducing Philip... 

Philip is the sock monkey I made for my brother, as a mascot for the festival he was one of the production managers on. Philip was taken into the production office and put to work at once *serious, newreader-esque expression*

Making coffee to get ready for the long day of organising important things. Oh yes, this monkey starts the day as he means to go on...

All morning on the phone, crisis after crisis are no match for this monkey *tries to keep a straight face*

Stacking, packing and racking boxes *starts to giggle*

Ah, finally, a break in the sunshine for our intrepid worker :)

Ok, so I know, it's a bit of a silly post, but better than saying nothing at all. Besides, I love how my brother and his mates got such a kick out of the monkey (I didn't ask for any of these pictures to be taken, they just appeared on facebook one day in their own little album!) 

If all the items I make can bring this much fun to the recipient then I'll be happy (still trying to convince boyfriend that he does want something I've knitted... Ah well, at least he still loves his apron)


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches 2KCBWDAY3

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

Interesting question...! I'm not the most organised person in the world, and I'm most certainly not the tidiest *shamefaced smile*

My yarns are all stored in a big plastic box (with a satellite stash hiding in a plastic bag under my desk, shhh!) In fact, I recently reorganised the box to fit more in, so that I could justify my most recent purchases based on my resolution to not buy more until there was room to store it. Almost worked, save for the 2 giant, 400g balls I bought (but I'm knitting with them now, so they don't count, right?!)

See how tidy it appears (the lighting is terrible, but I liked this shot because you can see the funky sock yarn peeking through!)

Satellite Stash hiding under the desk - see the pink stuff? That's the "loathe it" yarn from Monday's post ;) Hence why it is kept hidden, along with some novelty yarns I dare not even mention!)

One of the giant balls that just doesn't fit in - other one is attached to the needles, so it is currently in my bag.

Tape measure/scissors/thread/etc are all tucked into a make up bag, which sounds tidy but there are random bits of scrap yarn, swatches, loose DPNs, etc. So it's somewhat messier than it first appears *rolls eyes*

Magazines, knitting books and patterns are in a big pile awaiting either a magazine rack or me to be motivated enough to sort them out... Which may take some time ;) Besides, they currently make a lovely pedestal for my interchangeable needles *laughs*

Shamefully, I actually removed half the magazines to take this shot! You can just see my Stitch Library and the AntiCraft book at the bottom there.

I know some people are organised when it comes to their needles. Me, not so much ;)

All jammed into a glass that I covered with gold paper to make it look less messy ;)

I do intend, one of these days, to make myself a fabric needle case. I have a sewing machine, I have fabric, I have thread... I also have procrastination ;)

See, sewing machine... Currently shrouded in its case. Also, my unfinished lace scarf, which sits on the side so that I'm not allowed to forget it!

So, in conclusion, I don't keep particularly organised. I want to, I really do. In fact, I can be much more creative in a clean, tidy atmosphere than I can in my usual chaos. But tidying takes time away from being creative, so my instinct is to avoid at all costs *laughs*

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP 2KCBWDAY2

Day Two of Blog week...

"Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet?"

I've not actually been knitting 6 months yet (that anniversary is in a few days though!) so I can't look back over a whole year, but I think it'll be interesting to look back over the last 6 months and see how far I've come. Then I can look back in another 6 months and see if I got any further *grins*

I'm incredibly pleased with how far I've come since I started to knit... These are my highlights (not in any great depth, as I've covered the projects in more detail in previous posts)
  • Decided to learn to knit. Bought a "Learn to knit this scarf pattern". Started with garter stitch scarf, skipping the angled ends as the increasing and decreasing confused me! Don't love it, but it was the first thing I ever made, and a brand new skill *smiles*

  • Tried to make a ribbed scarf and failed to purl... Helpful hint received from my mum who pointed out that I was knitting into the back of the stitch, making it impossible to purl, ooops! Success soon followed :)
  • Cunningly decided that a scarf made in eyelash yarn would be a good next project. It was happily received when it was done, but it took forever!
  • Hit the John Lewis sales to introduce myself to the world of yarn (my LYS only has DK and Chunky in varying degrees of acrylic - John Lewis was a riot of colour and fibre!). Knowledge of what I did and didn't like abounded as a result. 
  • Tried lace - a simple feather and fan/old shale pattern, but I was well impressed with managing to get something so pretty happening only a month after learning to knit! Ok, so I still haven't finished it, but that's more to do with the cotton yarn being not a lot of fun to knit with compared to the rest of my stash ;)
  • Mitts on 4 DPNs... Learning to knit in the round was a pretty big deal. I'm still not great at it, and only just manage not to poke myself in the eye! But still, another skill I wasn't expecting to acquire so soon.
  •  Moved on to my first garment - a capelet that turned into a shrug when I realised my gauge was completely wrong - very proud to have figured out how to modify the pattern slightly to get the result I was aiming for (plus, learned to knit i-cord when I realised I'd need something to fasten it together!)
  • Cables - they looked so daunting but I decided the best plan was taking things one stitch at a time. Which worked, and I proudly ticked that skill box.

  • Less than 2 months into my knitting career, I was making a jumper. Not sure if this is a common progression, but I decided I was ready, it was a simple pattern from a book that described all the required techniques, I'd practiced the cable on some cheap yarn and got it right, so I figured there was no reason not to go for it *grins* Learned from this that I should really shorten the arms of anything I knit - I have short arms and sleeves are always too long on things I buy, if I make something myself I should actually make them my size!

  • "Designing" my own pattern. I put designing in inverted commas, because I'm not sure it really counts as a design, but I made my tank top up as I went along, after looking at various other patterns that weren't quite what I wanted. I'm really happy with the finished item, and the fact that I made it up myself makes it even better *proud smile* Further made up items include my hat and neckwarmer but as they're just little accessories, I'm not quite as impressed with myself ;)
I know that these aren't necessarily skills that are particularly special, but I am proud of how quickly I have picked them up. All of the skills I've learned in the last (nearly) 6 months are new to me, picked up mostly from books and the internet (along with a little help from my mum) and I think it's a fairly impressive list, if I do say so myself. 

I think the main thing is that I have developed a lot of confidence. With the snuggly poncho/wrap, for example, I made some modifications to the pattern because I thought I'd prefer it. And I do *big grin* As boyfriend put it, I have a bit of a penchant for experimentation, which leads me in different directions (some of which work, some of which don't - but hey, that's part of the fun!)

Over the next 6 months there are plenty of new skills to try, and my previous attempts at lace indicate that I certainly need to develop some more skill in that area! 


Monday, 28 March 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns 2KCBWDAY1

I'm quite excited to be participating in the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blog week (obviously I didn't participate in the first one having never knitted before, let alone seen the vast array of online resources and community that exists!) - Especially due to the lack of my own content this week - some small level of progress has been made on my cardigan, but yesterday boyfriend and I spent the day gardening... I'm so not cut out for manual labour - I couldn't even pick up my knitting in the evening, my arms were like wet noodles *laughs and winces at the same time*

So, luckily I have a week's worth of pre-defined topics to write about ;)

"Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them."

It's been quite interesting to think about this, especially as I don't have a lot of experience with a huge variety of yarns. I had to spend a fair while trying to decide which to write about as my favourite, but my least favourite was easy, so I'll start with that ;)

It's Sirdar Big Softie, that I bought online from Kemps, at the vast cost of 59p per ball *laughs*. I was very new to knitting when I bought it, in fact I'd only made my very first scarf at this point, and I had no idea about how different yarns felt or behaved. But it was cheap, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on yarn before I knew that I'd want to carry on knitting. Besides, it looked so soft and fluffy in the picture!

I tried knitting a couple of things with it and hated the way it felt in my hands, there was something that just really didn't appeal. Even at a needle size above the one recommended, the stitches were really tight (at first I thought I'd just inherited my mum's tendency to knit tightly, but later experiences have not proved this to be true). 

I tried knitting "my so called scarf" with this, but the overwhelming sameness of the colour really detracted from the pattern, it ended up looking very matted and flat. So I frogged and, as you can see from the state of the picture above, have not touched since. 

Now, onto a yarn that I love. This was quite hard, and I'm still struggling to pick one of three while I write this. My three contenders are: Rowan Kidsilk Aura, Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Aran and Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend...

Hmm, they all seem to have something in common *laughs* It wasn't until I started thinking about this post that I realised what a sucker I am for something with silk in it! And now, having looked at the pictures, how I apparently like purple a lot more than I realised *confused smile* I suppose there is a real richness to it, that works especially well in conjunction with the silk.

I still haven't 100% decided which I love the most. I have a feeling it'll soon be the Manos, but as I have only played with it so far, and not actually made anything, right now I'm gonna go with the Alpaca.

I remember the revelation of knitting with it, how soft and buttery it felt in my hands. Apart from some mercerized cotton (that I still haven't finished making a scarf with - that stuff is hard on the hands!), this was the first non-acrylic/acrylic-blend yarn I'd ever used. At the same time I went from plastic and aluminium needles to bamboo, so it was a pretty intense change!

I liked the way the stitches looked, the way the fabric draped and the fact that this was the yarn I made my first wearable, non-accessory item with *pridefulness*

I loved every second I spent knitting with it, constantly stopping to stroke what I'd made so far *laughs* And so began my emerging love of all things silky ;) 

Of course, due to not having been knitting long, there are plenty of exciting new yarns to try out that I've read lots about on other blogs. My only problem is the fact that I want them all, right now, despite only having two hands!

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Yesterday I remembered a website my mum had told me about ages ago, called Wordle. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's a word cloud generator. You can paste in a load of text and it generates a cloud based on the most used words. Or, as I discovered yesterday, you can put in your blog address and it picks up the rss feed to give you a wordle of your blog...

Of course I then had to try this out *grins*

(click picture to embiggen)

"Yarn" and "make" seem to crop up quite often, which obviously makes sense, but I'm somewhat disturbed to see that my most commonly used word is "like" - luckily for my pendantic mum, it's used in the context of me liking something, rather than as a word scattered throughout everything I say *laughs*

I was also very amused by the layout of the words (which you can change, but I liked what I got), particularly this bit:

Like something, get yarn... Sounds like it should be the subtitle of my blog, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bittersweet Symfonie

I got home last night to find an exciting parcel, which was especially exciting because I'd only ordered it the day before!

Knitpro Symfonie Interchangeable Needles *grins*

I only recently decided to invest in these, after discovering that about half the patterns I'm planning on making need circulars and I only have straight needles. I figured that if I wanted to invest in this kit then I should do it before purchasing needles in random sizes. I'd bought a really cheap circular needle a while ago, to test out, and it was awful, the cable part kinked and kept trying to roll itself back up - not helpful when you're trying to knit on it!

I'd heard great things about the Knitpro needles, and I liked the idea of having interchangeables, so that I didn't have to keep buying the same needle size in different lengths. Not one to do things by halves, I went with the deluxe set (rather than the starter set) so I got 8 needle sizes, 4 cable lengths and 8 end caps to keep everything together if you take off the needles. It also came in a handy case *smiles* I like things in handy cases ;)

And why is it bittersweet? Well, I was so excited to get my new needles that I needed to cast on with them, which meant I didn't cast on the Manos Silk Blend that I am itching to get started with. But I just had to try out my new toy.

Verdict - Love them! The cables are really supple and don't try and twist like pretzels, the tips are wonderfully smooth (I liked bamboo, now I'm converted to wood!) and they're pretty too:

I like the multi-colouredness, although it might get a bit headache inducing if I was using particularly bright and patterned yarn ;) Just look at those smooth, shiny tips *wonders if I may be a little overexcited about some knitting needles here!*

So I have now cast on for the long, hooded cardigan I liked in Vampire Knits. I'm currently on row 5 of the fir cone lace pattern, which I'm really enjoying. It's an easy pattern to do, which suits my primitive lace abilities perfectly, but it's still fairly interesting (well, to me who usually works in stocking stitch at least!)

Maybe I'll get to that Manos soon, the cardigan looks like it'll take a while, so I'll probably need a break or something ;)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky*

So, my purple jumper, neglected yesterday in favour of Owlbert (yes, I've changed his name to make him more puntastic, don't judge me *laughs*)

It is finished, and has even been worn *grins* Being so sheer, it needs a little top underneath it, but that works for me - I like layering.

It's so fuzzy *snuggles* although I did get a bit sick of getting the little fibers up my nose while wearing it ;) Possibly due to my insistence on snuggling it all the time *laughs*

I got it finished at mum's house, only needing to complete the sleeves and sew it all up. Side note: I really hate sewing up! Gonna have to find some all in one patterns with minimal sewing required.

It was quite funny, my brother had seen me making a sleeve then gone out with some friends. When he came back I was seaming - his reaction when he thought I'd knitted the whole thing in the couple of hours he'd been out was brilliant *chuckles*

So, all in all, I'm pleased with it - quite excited to have made another garment

Arty angled picture to show the success of my sleeve and neckline modifications - I really like how they turned out:

Pattern: To Dye For, Stitch 'n' Bitch
Yarn: Kidsilk Aura in Logan Berry
Modifications: Changed neckline by not doing any neck shaping, made 3/4 length sleeves instead of bell sleeves
Difficulty: 1/5
Enjoyment: 3/5
New Skills: Set in sleeves - think I prefer raglans though
What I'd change next time: Make the body longer (seems to be a theme with the patterns from that book) and add some waist shaping (once I know how to do that!)
Would I make again? Maybe, it was very easy and relaxing, but not entirely exciting.

* Purple Haze, Jimmy Hendrix 
(I did consider going with the line "purple haze all in my eyes" instead, but it seemed so obvious *laughs*)

Monday, 21 March 2011

The More He Saw*

I finished my purple jumper, and I was planning my post about it in my head yesterday (I really hope other people do that!)... But I then made something else and was too excited about it not to post. So purple jumper pictures will have to wait until tomorrow *shrugs*

When I got home from mum's I decided to sit down and knit some of my fab new yarn. I'd started making a skinny scarf with the Manos, then frogged it because the resulting fabric was so gorgeous and snuggly that it seemed a waste not to make a proper scarf (despite my original logic being that the colours were too gorgeous to restrict to a proper scarf that would get less wear - what can I say, my mind is very changeable!)

So I sat and reviewed my new goodies (plus an additional 4 balls of Patons something or other in a lovely blue that I may have forgotten to mention *cheeky smile*)

And then pushed it all to one side to make something with the yarn my brother bought me for my birthday *smiles* So, let me introduce Albert


I started knitting it up with the intention of making my brother some sort of monster, but then it didn't want to be a monster, it begged to be an owl instead. So, my poor brother got nothing and I got this cute little guy!

I've never worked with such variegated yarn before, and it was fun watching the patterns emerge. It was also lots of fun making something small, with a little amount of yarn, that could be finished in an afternoon, rather than slogging through a whole garment (which I also enjoy of course, but sometimes a bit of quick gratification is in order!)

* A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren't we like that wise old bird? - Edward Hersey Richards

Friday, 18 March 2011

Stash Enhancement

I'm currently staying at my mum's house for a few days, and she mentioned that she had a pretty good local yarn shop *grins* I'm sure you can see where this is going ;)

I wanted to get the yarn to make a couple of patterns from the Vampire Knits book, and my LYS is hopeless (DK and Chunky in 100% acrylic making up the bulk of their stock *rolls eyes*) so I thought it wouldn't hurt to pop in.

From the front it doesn't look like much, in fact it looks very old fashioned, so I was expecting a fairly limited range.

How wrong I was! It's a proper little treasure trove, with every brand and fibre you could ask for. And remarkably reasonably priced too *eyes light up*

So of course I had to make the most of this opportunity ;) I was in there for ages, fondling all the soft and fluffy goodness. I could have bought enough to make an entire wardrobe of clothes (and you should see the size of my wardrobe!) Instead, I restrained myself to only going a little bit mad. Afterall, it'll be there next time I come to mum's, so I can always stock up again!

So, onto the goodies:

This giant ball to make the hooded cardigan... It's somewhat acrylic, but for a cardigan that works I think. Can't seem to get a good picture of the colour - it's somewhere between the two, although far more purple than the first picture implies (close up to show the fact that it has flecks of green, which didn't come out in the other picture)

Regia sock yarn - I'm still determined to knit socks at some point, and I love how garish the colours are in this. Not something I'd wear for anything else, but I like fun socks ;)

4ply in a sort of burgundy, to make the capelet from Vampire Knits

6 balls of Kidsilk Aura, in a sort of caramel colour. I'm still working on my jumper in the purple colourway of this yarn, and it's lovely to knit with, but I had no plans to buy any more for a little while, as I'm still experimenting to see what I like. But then I saw the price (I paid £5 a ball for the purple, which was reduced from something like £7.95)... £2.75 a ball *big smile* So I couldn't not really!

And this - 2 skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. I've heard (read?!) so many bloggers rave about this stuff, but I'd never had the chance to see it in person, and it was a little too pricy to buy online without knowing I'd like it. Well, like it I do ;)

And a close up to show the variety of gorgeous colours:

Well, that was a fairly unexpected stash enhancement expedition, and I'm already excited about going back next time I'm in the area *laughs and ignores the lack of space in my house for all this yarn*

Thursday, 17 March 2011


I mentioned in my last post that I had some family stuff going on this week. Well, yesterday was the first anniversary of the day my wonderful dad died. So it's a pretty emotional time for me and my family and I wasn't sure if I'd want to post. For some reason, I decided that I do want to, so here I am.

Yesterday we went to "our" beach - the same one I have the vial of sand from in my necklace. We went to the penny arcade, as per our family tradition, which was bittersweet. I managed to win a toy from one of the grabber machines!

We popped into the antiques shop (which I would categorise as 25% antiques, 75% tat!) where they had a cluster of old knitting patterns. I quite enjoyed looking through them, and came away with this one:

I picked it up because I sort of liked it, then mum said that my nanny had actually made that pattern (unfortunately, in the same colour as the picture - yikes), so of course I had to buy it then *smiles*

I took lots of pictures of rusted metal things, because I liked how they looked...

We walked on the sand, skimmed stones in the sea (well, my brother did, mum and I can't get the action right, no matter how many times my dad tried to teach us) and generally had a day that could never be described as nice, but also wasn't quite awful.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Vanity of Hopes*

I'm not sure how much I'll be posting this week, lots of family related stuff going on, so I may not be around. Or I may not be crafting enough to have anything to write about, which is where I'm at right now actually... I wasn't in the mood to knit last night, so there is no further progress on the fluffy purple jumper.

One thing I was going to mention, is that I bought a stitch library book. It's probably not the most comprehensive one around, but I liked the way it was done and there's plenty in there to keep me occupied for a while!

I decided it would be a good idea to have this, as I seem to enjoy knitting more when I make it up as I go along, rather than sticking slavishly to a pattern (of course this is sometimes more to do with me not paying proper attention to the pattern and having to come up with a workaround!)

So, I'm planning on using patterns to learn how to construct a garment, but using this book to increase my knowledge of what I can achieve in terms of customisation.

After getting frustrated with Wisp, I thought perhaps I would make a different lace wrap with my Kidsilk Haze, and there are a couple of lovely lace stitches in the book that don't look too horrendously challenging!

* No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a library.  ~Samuel Johnson

Monday, 14 March 2011

New Plan...

So, I gave up on my plan for the cushion cover *rolls eyes at self* I know my previous plan was to finish that and then I could buy new yarn and make an exciting new project, but, well, it didn't happen...

I started, and put it down and looked at it and picked it up and generally struggled to make myself want to knit it. So soon after the brown jumper, I wasn't sure if I could bear more brown knitting ;) So I glared at it for a bit and generally avoided knitting anything at all.

Then I stopped myself, and thought about things without trying to come up with some rules about what I will allow myself to do. And I came to the conclusion that there is no point making myself do anything. I knit for my own enjoyment, and if my unnecessary, self imposed rules are sucking all the fun out of it then there's something wrong.

Therefore I came up with a new plan. No knitting of things I don't want to knit. Simple, huh?!

Of course, now that I've given myself a break, I actually decided I wanted to knit the kidsilk aura jumper that I'd already bought the yarn from in the sales - so I am in fact following my plan to reduce the stash of yarn before buying more *laughs* Oh, how contrary my brain is!

Anyway, enough rambling...

Over the weekend I knit the front and back of the jumper, it's the To Dye For one from Stitch n Bitch. Well, sort of, I'm making some modifications ;)

According to the pattern, this is the back. But I really like the way the neckline looks, so I decided to make the front and back the same and seam together at the shoulders. Theoretically, this should result in a straight necked sort of look (which I really love and can never find anything that has one).

I really like how open the stitching is, and I was quite haphazard with my tension so that it would be fairly unstructured...

My plan for the sleeves also involves some modifications - instead of the long, bell sleeves in the pattern, I'm planning to do elbow length sleeves instead. There are 2 very good reasons for this... Firstly, I don't like sleeves that I can't roll up, and I'm hopeless with bell sleeves, I manage to drag them through everything! Secondly, I miscalculated the number of balls I needed to make the pattern, and probably don't have enough to finish the sleeves to their full length!

But the first reason is the main one. Honest *grins*

Annoyingly, even in natural light, the camera on my iphone refused to pick up the correct colour.This is at least pretty close...

Mmmmm, warm and fuzzy and purple. I'm really hoping my modifications work, because if they do then I have a feeling I will have a new favourite *crosses fingers*